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The UK Food Agency’s ‘honour system’ for CBD does not inspire confidence

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When it comes to getting a legal CBD product on the market in the UK, it seems to be free for everyone.

With the Food Standards Agency (FSA) taking an honor system approach to the first step in the safety approval process for CBD, it’s clear that some of the companies whose products have been initially approved by the agency have been less than honorable.

A unique challenge for the FSA

An FSA unit focused on new (or “new”) foods faces a task unprecedented in its history – sifting through the burgeoning gray market for CBD to create a clear path to safe and legal products. The review is a one-time opportunity to get CBD products currently on the UK market to become legal.

The FSA used to think of new foods on a one-case basis, anticipating a large number of CBD applications, and devising a policy based on the honesty and goodwill of market participants – taking mainly the words of advanced companies whose products were sold before February 13, 2020, based on simple leaves.

It was required that products that had passed the agency’s initial review and are currently on the public list be on sale as of that date – the main criterion for entering the agency’s review system to ensure the safety of new foods, and to ensure that these products may remain on the market while the FSA is considered. . (Products now face toxicology reviews and other technical standards, Phase 2 in the approval process)

Don’t check

According to Linden Jack, Deputy Director of Food Policy at the FSA, the required documentation includes: “Proof of pre-existing condition includes receipts, contracts, or invoices for products that can identify the exact product and show a date prior to February 2020. Each was on the supplier/company. Also sign a declaration stating that all evidence presented was true.”

With no FSA mechanism in place to verify that documents, stakeholders, and other monitors who track the CBD food safety process agree, simple reasoning suggests that it’s unlikely all products – around 12,000! The FSA’s current public list was on UK shelves ahead of the February 2020 deadline, according to Steve Moore, president of the UK’s Cannabis Industry Association (ACI), which is leading a group of new food applicants.

“There is a lot of speculation about some of the companies that found themselves on the list,” Moore told HempToday.

Not our responsibility

Critics said a quick review of lab reports from some products that reached the second stage of the process shows they were not on the market by March 2020.

Additionally, even after the FSA released, for the second time, an expanded “final” list of 11,908 approved products at the end of June, the agency’s website now includes an additional 209 products, bringing the current total to 12,117.

ACI and EIHA projects GmbH, a second consortium organized by the European Industrial Hemp Association – which submitted more than half of the approved entries – together with ACI – focused their new nutritional efforts on THC toxicology and other research essential to the final stages of FSA reconsideration. Both say it was not their responsibility to check the dates that the products would start selling.

“The role of the FSA and not of EIHA or EIHA projects GmbH is to verify and confirm applications from trademark owners that meet the FSA criteria for inclusion on the ‘List,’” Tony Reeves, EIHA board member representing the association to various UK government agencies, said HempToday . Asked if EIHA projects GmbH, which has approximately 5,500 applications initially approved, believes all products are on sale before March 2020 as required, the association declined to comment.

While the ACI did not examine applications from union members — which represent at least 2,000 products — Moore said he was confident that all companies that went through the food safety process through his association complied with the FSA’s sale history requirements.

Zigzag Road to CBD

The Financial Services Authority, under pressure to clear the market and remove safety threats to consumers as the paralegal market expands rapidly, has properly announced the approval process in 2020 and has provided sufficient notice in the lead-up to the application deadline, March 31, 2021.

Serious companies noticed. Those who followed the FSA’s guidelines submitted a total of 70 applications covering 3,536 products by that original deadline, then sat down to watch the process. The Financial Services Authority, which has already been evaluating the safety of CBD products for the past 18 months, said in October that it had rejected nearly 650 CBD products, having approved a total of just 43, with about 100 remaining. Product under review.

At the time, six months after the original application deadline, the FSA was still unable to say when it would publish its final and complete list of pre-validated CBD products given the complexity of many of these filings. slow grinding review raised concern Among some stakeholders, who said the delay threatened their business’ existence before their products reached the end of the safety review process.

FSA folds under pressure

When the original FSA list was finally released at the end of February of this year, some companies not participating in it put pressure on the FSA to reconsider their applications, and others who never came forward asked to go through the approval process, Questioning System reliability.

That’s when the doors to the ceremony opened wide, as the Free Syrian Army “extended” the original March 2021 deadline by more than a year, until May 26 this year. Many companies, suffering from the failure of the global CBD market to live up to excessive expectations, supply chain blockages and falling prices, began to see the potentially lucrative UK market as a savior.

First, the FSA doubled the number of approved products in an update to the original list announced in late April, adding 2,445 products to the 3,536 original products already in operation, doubling the number to nearly 6,000. Then, after the new deadline was announced, the list double repeatedly In a subsequent FSA review released in early July, the total swelled to nearly 12,000 products.

Now, the hard part

In the end, the FSA appears to have instituted a “sort them in the wash” strategy to appease the desperate and boisterous latecomers, letting them into the system in the first stage.

But now comes the hard part. The FSA said that some products will definitely not pass the strict THC toxin screening and other technical checks, and will be excluded from review. As the review continues, some CBD companies will go out of business, and the FSA can only hope, reducing the number of products to consider. How long the review process will take, and how many companies will disappear is anyone’s guess.

The FSA’s Lassaiz faire approach to the original generic CBD listing does not indicate anything good for the rest of the process. In the interest of the consumer – and therefore the interest of the sector – let’s hope the agency takes a tougher approach while continuing to review CBD products, no matter how long it takes.

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